Religious Expansion: Consequences and an Alternative

by Suman Kundu on January 19, 2015

It was probably the only movie I saw in its first week of release. I do not prefer so, but it raised so much controversy that I wanted to know whether those were worth considering. I know you have already guessed, but let me tell you the name. The movie was Pk. Some say Hindus should boycott the movie. However, I am unable to find any proper reason for a boycott.

After the show, we (me and my wife) decided to walk back home. We spoke about the storyline, about acting, about Hinduism and obviously about religions. A question came to my mind. What is the basis of all religions? And what are the motive behind every religion, rather religious missionaries?

In some difficult or different circumstances, few ideologic people created diverse religion for rectifying the social anomalies or cope with their habitat. These religions are based on some ideas, which were meaningful in their time and their socio-economic context. Although created on different basis, today, all of them say their religions were formed on the line of peace! Peace in which sense is another subject of discussion. For my question, I would love to accept the answer "peace' here. Being a Hindu, I would speak of Hinduism for now. It's not only peace but also harmony that is the base of its establishment. Harmony with everything of the universe. For example, Hindus use Bael and Mango leaves in Pujas and Yajna; but, a Hindu wouldn't offer leaf of a tree that hasn't fruited at least once. That is, you make sure that the tree is grown enough to survive, though a few leaves are plucked off and also the tree has produced its offspring for future availability (i.e., sustainable use). We in childhood have also witnessed people considering different animals, even the poisonous ones', as Vastu-jeeva (not pet, it is similar to a god who has blessings to that household), like at my drawing teacher's home, they never killed a centipede; my neighbor's land had a গোসাপ (Komodo Dragon) which was never chased. Although, these values of harmony are disappearing very rapidly, obviously in the name of globalization, modernization and superstition. But all are not superstition or all are not that much irrelevant in today's world. I agree that some are irrelevant, but some of them are also significant in modern times. May be more meaningful today than were yesterday. Like, truth has many forms, a Hindu's belief, is most relevant to the present world more than ever.

Anyways! I am possibly diverting from my motivation of this post. I have addressed the first question I raised. What about the second? What is the motivation of religions or religious practitioner? To my understanding, religious practitioners aspire to make new followers. That is, spreading an ideology, for them, is equivalent to increasing the religious belivers (in their way). Be it Islam, be it Christianity or be it Vaishnava's from Iskcon, the story remains same for most of the religions. Some do it peacefully, some strategically and some use power to fulfill this goal. We can easily find those evidences in thousand years of human history, and even in current modernized global information technology era. Average peaceful human beings, like me however, find it very difficult to follow this common ideology of expantion. We, the peaceful ones, always be the victim of this senario. Whether it is in Iraq or in Afghanistan or in Nigeria, recent times, or in medieval times, the list is growing.

If it is all about "peace', why do we have to fight for it? Because of the above motivation which is not at all peaceful. So most of the religion has a non-peaceful desire, at-least to their followers. Frankly, speaking no "one set of ideologies' is correct and absolute in this world. We Hindus, may have relevant sutras of life, but we also have some completely useless views. The same is true for every religion throughout the world. Some are useful even today some are not. The logic of so called teachers of the religions, however, is that if you like one point, then "come to us and follow all others blindly".

If instead those practitioner counts the number of sutras of his religion being adapted by another one, then I think it would be more peaceful. One of my friends says the matter looks like same. Where is the difference? In such cases also, you will try to outreach the people for spreading the ideas. The question comes naturally, but I believe it has differences and the difference is in the consequences.

Let us see some of the consequences we have with the religious expansion logic. I know that Muslims practice polygamy and can have children more than two as per their religious believe. In Hinduism, there is no such explicit instructions, so, we accepted population control law of India quite heartily (mostly). But, in consequences of increasing the followers, we can now find some Hindu M.P.'s statement of four children per woman theory, which was then followed with supporting arguments of other supporters as well. They want more and more followers. Dangerous consequences, right? In another case, I got to know from the news that a formula of "Bahu lao, beti banchao' is prescribed by some idiots (sorry about the word choice, but can't find any better word for those), again to increase the count. Although, I don't know whether it was in the religious book of a Muslim or not, but I know several instances, where for love marriages, Muslim community easily accept girls from other religions but not the other way around, i.e., "Bahu lao, beti banchao'. So, what we are accumulating here? We are accumulating the negatives of other religions.

On the other hand, as a Hindu I felt proud when I found that the pope Francis of Vatican city echoed the same statement about environment that Veda says. Or when I found my Muslim cycle servicing engineer friend offered Pujas to his iron tools. Although he referes it as a Muslim rituals, but I belive, in Islam, pujas offered to any worldly things is not permited. So, it is bassically a reflection of Hindu's belif. However, this does not increase any count for Hindu. So, extremist would not have any reasons for celebration here. But I have, because my count increases. Similarly, there may be something my Christian or Muslim friend cheer about me because I follow their religious beliefs. For that I don't need to be a Muslim or Christian. The consequences here is that you are accumulating good things of others (mostly). So, when you are not bound to increase the population of a particular religion, your focus might be shifted from aggressiveness to inclusiveness. Obviously, this is my understanding. The former have definite proves in the history of mankind the latter has none. Feel free to disagree. I don't wish to impose my idea to anyone and this spirit must be alive in everyone's heart.

At the end, I would say, believe firmly on your own religion but don't stop questing. Accept what is good and reject the bad. Those, who try to deceive your religion may not harm it, but you, with your wrong doing surely can.

Disclaimer: I am also a very religious person. The examples provided here are from my own experiences. I have no intention to hurt someone's religious sentiment. If that happen with any of the word choices and/or statements, please take my sincere apologies.

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